Pai: Hills are my worst enemy
Trip Start Jan 25, 2010
9Trip End Feb 23, 2010
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First of all a few things I left out from the previous blogs, every time I have written a blog I have had to end it to go the the loo ( yes I've just found the save draft function) but I've come prepared this time!
SO, after the first blog, I was across from the Hualamphong station, and I still had like 2 hours before I could justifiably sit in the station and wait for my train, so, I went riding. Riding on the flat is SOO much fun! Anyway I dodged down an alley where someone was walking and it looked interesting, and there were people doing aerobics! Everything there was concrete, and pretty grimy, it was a pretty poor neighbourhood, this lady smiled at me and there were some kids who I guess were waiting for their mums to finish, so I went and sat (as inconspicuously as possible when you are my shade of white) and pretended to read my map. (But I knew exactly where I was mwahaha) anyway these little girls were so cute and started trying to communicate with me. I gave them my camera and they started taking pictures. I was just hanging ou for like 40 minutes and then everyone finished aerobics. I talked to some of the adults, tried to speak thai but:disaster as usual. ANyway then there were some boys playing basketball so I joined in Clearly this is not common practice for a falang so I drew some attention. It was a fun evening and I left in search of some dinner. Anyway after that you know what happened! I got on the train! Also one other thing of note, in the train station this crazy falang started screaming "I HATE THIS COUNTRY!!!" really loud and the whole place went quiet. It was so rude! I mean I understand that everything takes longer here and obviously people speak a different language, but come on. There's no cause for country hating.
Anyway. After the Chiang Mai blog...lets see. I can now cook, yes, and I went to bed at an appropriate hour so as to get up at dawn without an alarm. It worked! I woke up, left my key at the front desk (someone actually had a bed right behind the front desk) and crept out on my bike at about 6am, about 45 minutes before sunrise. I was headed for Doi Suthep (look it up) the big deal temple of Chiang Mai. It is like 14km ALL UP as it's at the top of a hill.
The story goes that long ago some important monk wanted to build a temple, but he didn't know where he was supposed to build it. So, he got the prized possession thing (see I retain lots of useful info) and gave it to an important elephant. Then he said, wherever the elephant stops, that's where I will build the temple.
Dang elephant must have been really tired because he walked straight up to the top and sat down. Or whatever, the point is I had to lug my bike and luggage all the way to the top and by the time I got there I had missed sunrise. The lonely planet says that a very fit cyclist ca reach the top in an hour and a half. It took me 3 hours! Hahhah but I liked zooming down after, I reached 26km/hr (doesn't sound fast does it? It is. Plus I had no protective gear and did part of it without hands :)
Anyway I will now tell you about something I will henceforth refer to as the poop incident.
I was descending the gazillion steps of Doi Suthep temple (yes after you make it to the top of the hill they make you climb stairs. Cruel isn't it) I had a hankering for the bathroom. I figured I would zip down the hill and check out Chiang Mai zoo and maybe go there. So, I began to zip. Near the bottom was a waterfall, surrounded by those little shops that are in Thailand that all sell meat and around which are dogs and flies. I thought I'd just check out the waterfall before I went to the bathroom in the little village thing, it was about a 5minute walk. Directly on arrival at the waterfall I felt something akin to PURE PANIC. I had nowhere to go and someone was knocking at the back door. So, I ran up the hill next to the waterfall, to the part that said "trail". There was no time, no time to check anything, I did a quick 360 and couldn't see anyone, and assumed the position JUST IN TIME. Clearly something I ate was not agreeable. Anyway without going into detail, when it was all over I managed to saunter down the hill looking semi respectable and then paid 3b to use the toilet, which still grosses me out just thinking about it.
I decided not to go to the zoo (I did something cool later though, read on) and went back to CHiang Mai city to turn onto the road to Pai.
The poop incident: Lessons learned; never pass up a toilet opportunity. Always take wet wipes everywhere. And, don't eat meat that has been cooking all day in the sun and covered with flies (sometimes there is no option.)
Moving on. I got on the road to Pai and had lunch at a semi restaurant (you can sit down and it's inside-ish.) The girl kept staring at me weirdly and I figure she was just silently dreading when I would stand up and pay, and she would have to interact with me again. I had fried rice with pork and a soda, cost $2.
After the turnoff to Pai (the second one) I thought I'd look for the TIGER KINGDOM, but I figured, if I didn't see it, that was OK and I would survive. I'm glad I saw it! I paid $15 to have photos taken with tigers and it was pretty cool. I mean, the tigers were pretty drugged up I think, and I had helmet hair, but come on, when you see the pictures you will agree.
Anyway I pressed on. Between Chiang Mai and Pai there are only a couple of small hills, 5km at the most. After the third one I was pretty tired and it was about three oclock. I cycled through rice paddies and villages and stopped to buy water every couple of hours. I would mostly push the bike up hills which slowed my progress alot.
I don't remember everything properly but there was a creepy policeman who keps saying "you skin very white. I very like" and staring at me. (CYA!) There was a woman in a restaurant with a bowl of something covered in ants. Kids shouting the word "white" in Thai as I rode by. And always the creepy construction workers.
So, at about 5:30pm I stopped for food at a semi restaurant looking place. I got some spicy pork on rice (made my lips burn) and some ice. It was getting late in teh day and I had been asking about a guesthouse for awhile but everyone told me there was one in a few kilometres. I hadn't seen one and had been going ages. I had done about 60km since Chiang Mai at 5:45 am that morning. So I asked the people at the restaurant if they knew where I could stay (using actions.) They didn't know at first, but then teh lady started babbling in Thai and pointing to the upstairs. I guess noone lives there because everyone went home so I had the place to myself and it was beautiful and only cost me $10 for the night.
When I woke up the next morning (at dawn again :) I got ready and went downstairs, trying to leave before everyone arrived. But tehn this old guy with no teeth tried to get me to stay for breakfast, and so I had rice soup with pork and celery, which was delicious (and I paid 30b for it.)
So I continued on. First thing in the morning: one huge hill. AGH! It was about 10km and then after that it was up, down, up, down, up, down like crazy for a few hours. Then there was one hill maybe 15 km and then either down or flat for about 15km, which was great. I stopped, got a soda, watched a lady makes some brooms, tried to talk to an old man and got some pictures of my bike next to a river. Everything seemed so peachy.
Oh I stopped along the road where all the CHIANG MAI-PAI buses were parked, to talk to a few foreigners. There was a guy from England, who asked me if I had a huge backpack kept somewhere at a hostel (nope just this for 4 weeks. WHAT?) and a Japanese lady, who I immediately liked and started talking to in Japanese. Gosh it was nice to hear Japanese again. And yes it was probably rude to talk to her in Japanese while the guy was standing right there, but I ddin't think about that at the time.
Then the wost hill ever. 23km of windy upwardsness. It was here I began calling hills monsters. Huge, green, scare the H out of me. However, zipping down the other side I hit 36km/hr :) and that earnt me a thumbs up from the guy on the motorscooter I was racing down the hill. (he had protective gear on. Sucker!)
So, I was attempting another hill when I saw some falangs ride by on motorscooters. They stopped ahead and walked back towards me. I cowered. Should I be scared? What did they want? Was I going to die or be asked for drugs??? Hahha
It was Katie, the girl from London who was at my cooking class in Chiang Mai. She had recognised me (only one dumb foreigner around here in the stinking heat, trying to bike up a jolly great hill) and came to say hi. I was happy to have a conversation. They were headed to Pai and had made it to where I was from Chiang Mai in 2 hours. GRR!
They were impressed at my awesome packing skills, (actually they are pretty impressive) and I bid them a somewhat sad farewell. That was about 1pm, so about 2.5 hours after that I finished the hill I was on, ate some serious food and asked about the rest of the road to Pai. "Up, up, up" everyone said. So, I got a ride the rest of the way. Don't judge me, I wouldn't have made it otherwise, before dark, and you all want me to be safe don't you? (Mum, dad?)
Also it was a great thing I got a ride because all the places to stay were full (I asked at like 10 places) because, oh coincidence of terrible coincidences, there's a reggae festival going on this weekend, and so Pai is more of a hippyville than usual, plus it has the added Bob Marley impersonators on every corner.
OH MY GOSH and I have seen 2 dead dogs here. I know they're dead because I poked them, and they were COVERED with fleas and flies. So gross! And just looking comatose like every other dog....SICK.
Anyway I had a bad pad thai today! I feel like something in it was rotten, or else it was the soy sauce, that just shouldn't go into Pad Thai. I would know.
I'm not wearing shoes, my hair is a fro (no hairdryer) and I'm wearing fishermen pants. I'm fitting in quite well! Oh sorry forgot to mention Pai is crazy full BUT another coincidence, while I was wandering the streets with a random German guy trying to find accommodation i hear "OH MY GOSH (posh London accent) BECKY!" and who would it be but Katie, coming to my rescue. She has a double room in a nice place so I'm going to crash there. No idea what I will do tomorrow but I'm taking things as they come.
All in all I feel very blessed to have been hooked up with nice accommodation these past 2 nights. Tomorrow is a chillout day (going to get a massage! YAY!) and the next day probably go on a white water rafting trip.
Will for sure keep you posted. Keep the love coming (wow I'm getting in touch with the hippie within....)